After meeting the lovely Isoud, Sir Dinadan went out looking for Tristram, again. Dinadan found him, again, before too long, but due to Tristram’s new face-concealing Elvis helmet, Dinadan didn’t recognize him, again. But this time he did recognize that helmet! It was a distinctive helmet: pictures of Elvis on either side.
“Hey, you!” cried Dinadan. “You’re that one coward who wouldn’t tell me where Tristram was!”
“Sure, okay,” said Tristram. “Hey, are you going to the latest big tournament, at Castle LONAZEP?”
“Probably. Why do you ask? Surely you aren’t going to go jousting, coward that you are.”
“Oh, no,” said Tristram. “I’m pretty much the biggest coward ever, sure, whatever. I’m going to just go watch, and maybe sell these spears to a needy knight or something. Whatever cowards do.” He snickered.
The pair bumped into Sir Gareth, who was likewise headed towards the LONAZEP tournament. He and Dinadan had a short joust out of love, just for funsies, and afterwards everyone laughed about it. Then the three of them bumped into Sir Palomides, likewise LONAZEP-bound. He and Dinadan likewise had a short joust for funsies. Afterwards Tristram asked him (apropos of nothing) whom he hated.
“Who I hate?” asked Palomides. “A random question, Elvis-helmeted stranger. As random as your odd and distinctively face-concealing helmet. I suppose I would say I hate Sir Tristram, because…”
“Whoa!” cried Tristram. He ripped his helmet off. “Say it to my face! I thought we were friends!”
“Tristram, Tristram, buddy!” Palomides held up his hands in supplication. “We are friends! You didn’t let me finish! I only hate you because you make me look bad, you’re so awesome!”
“Oh.” Tristram was mollified. “That’s okay, then. You see,” he said to Dinadan. “That’s how you apologize.”
“You’re a jerk. You know that right?”
The pair turned threesome turned foursome rode all together towards Castle LONAZEP and the latest big tournament. Along the way they reminisced about various previous tournaments: the one in Book IX where Palomides did well, or the one earlier in Book X that Lamorak was so great at.
“Man, it sucks that Lamorak was murdered offscreen,” said Tristram. “That Sir Gawaine and all his brothers, they’re just the worst. If they weren’t all King Arthur’s nephews I’d totally kill them all. No offense, Gareth.”
“None taken,” said Gareth. “I’ve always been the odd one out among my brothers. They went and formed a murderous cabal and didn’t even invite me! This is the first I’ve heard of it, actually.”
“You haven’t heard the whole story then,” observed Palomides. He launched into a long description that he’d heard from Lamorak’s squire, an eyewitness. Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, and Mordred had ambushed Lamorak in a privy place and slew his horse. Then they’d fought, four on one, for three hours, until finally Mordred managed to stab Lamorak in the back.
Tristram swore under his breath about what an atrocity it was, and Gareth and Dinadan nodded sadly.
“You know,” said Palomides, “this story gives me an idea. What if the four of us formed our own little murderous cabal, and worked together during this upcoming tournament?”
“Nah,” said Tristram. “There’s four of us, and there’d be, like, four hundred of them. It’s a big tournament. I’m going to pass on that.”
Then they stumbled on a boat! Like you do. This boat was all done up with red silk, fancy like. Tristram wandered aboard, and in the cabin he found the late King Hermance, lord of the Red Lands!
You may remember the Red Lands from Book VII. If not, no biggie. The thing to note here is that Hermance was dead. He’d bled to death from a dozen wounds; it was apparent that someone sliced him up. In his hands he held a letter that he’d apparently penned with his last strength!
DEAR KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE, STOP. AVENGE ME, STOP. I WAS MURDERED BY MY TWO WICKED BROTHERS, STOP. AS ARTHUR’S VASSAL I DEMAND VENGEANCE, STOP. REWARD: THE THRONE OF THE RED LANDS, STOP. LOVE, KING HERMANCE, STOP.
“Dibs!” said Tristram.
“No fair!” Palomides whined. “You just barged in! Let me take a crack at it. You don’t even need a throne. You’re the king of Brittany.”
Tristram scoffed. “If I were the king of Brittany then I’m pretty sure I’d remember that. Tell you what, I won’t pursue this for a week. Then all bets are off.”
“Deal,” said Palomides.
Before Malory describes Palomides’s strange adventure in the Red Lands, he wants to cover Tristram, Gareth, and Dinadan. The three of them stopped overnight in a castle, where Tristram noticed the local lord giving him the stinkeye.
“What’s up?” he demanded.
“You’re Sir Tristram de Liones, right?” the lord said. “You killed my brother!”
“I have no memory of that.” Tristram shrugged. “But hey, I’ve killed a bunch of guys. Some of them are bound to have had brothers. So, okay. Sure. I killed your stupid brother. Whatever. Do you have an invoice or something?”
“Screw you!” cried the local lord. But he couldn’t just attack Tristram, what with the bounds of hospitality and all, so they didn’t fight until the next morning, after breakfast. Then Tristram mortally wounded him and wandered off.
Shortly afterwards Tristram, Gareth, and Dinadan bumped into Mister 100, the King with a Hundred Knights. After referring to him exclusively by that epithet for nine and a half books of Le Morte D’Arthur, Malory announces that Mister 100’s real name is Sir Berrant le Apres. Mister 100, and his traveling buddy Sir Segwarides, were on their way to the big tournament at LONAZEP. Lots of guys on the road to LONAZEP.
Mister 100 noticed Tristram’s distinctive face-concealing Elvis-themed helmet, and bristled. See, this helmet had a little history. Tristram’d got it from the lovely Isoud, but that was a regifting: the Queen of Northgalis gave it to her. The Queen of Northgalis, in turn, needed to unload it because it was the helmet her lover had been wearing the time the King of Northgalis walked in on them.
When Mister 100 saw the helmet, he recognized it from the King of Northgalis’s description. Naturally he assumed that Tristram was the nogoodnik who’d been having an affair with the Queen of Northgalis. Hilarity ensued, in the form of jousting! Does Malory know any other flavor of hilarity? Mister 100 dehorsed Dinadan, and then he and Tristram fought, with Tristram winning on points but not managing a knockout.
Segwarides wanted in on the action, too. He offered to joust Sir Gareth, but Tristram objected.
“Hey, now, there’s literally no reason for you two to joust,” he said.
“That has’t stopped anybody else!” cried Segwarides, and Gareth agreed! They jousted. Segwarides won.
Mister 100 said something about hoping someone learned their lesson, and then he and Segwarides staggered off.
Tristram noted that Dinadan had been dehorsed a bunch of times in the last few thousand words, and Gareth’d lost pretty badly to Segwarides. He decided to put their LONAZEP trip on hold. Instead he took Dinadan and Gareth back home to Joyous Gard, where the lovely Isoud nursed them back to health.
The lovely Isoud also had a laugh about how Dinadan didn’t recognize Tristram and got beaten up. She was still annoyed about that whole not-jousting-on-her-say-so thing Dinadan pulled.